Tue 22 May

Something non-music related this time: gaming. As online gaming has become increasingly popular over the last decade, couch co-ops (local multiplayer) games reigned during the zeroes. In 2002, Nintendo released the sequel to their successful fighting game Super Smash Bros: Melee. It features various familiar Nintendo characters, like Mario, Donkey Kong & Link, and let's you go head to head with your friends. The game received critical praise, awards and acknowledgements from gaming publications. It is the GameCube's best-selling game and considered to be one of the best video games of all time.

Though not intentional, it also became a highly competitive game, sparking tournaments all over the world. Now, 16 years after its release, Sam van der Berg keeps that spirit high with his annual Mokum Melee tournament in Amsterdam and shows its strong sense of community. We had a chat with Sam about the game and the tournament, which is held at RADION July 15th.

Hi Sam! After more than a decade since Melee's release, what is the current state of the Smash community here in Amsterdam/Netherlands?

The community is alive and kicking. As far as I can tell, there are more meetups compared to when I entered the scene 3 years ago. Also people are seriously motivated to become better (read: the best), I feel like Amsterdam is going to put forward some new internationally ranked players in not to long.

How often does the community meet to play/train? Aside from the Mokum Melee (and other) events?

There is a weekly meeting in Amsterdam-West. However you don't necessarily have to meet to play/train. You can practice alone or play online through netplay. It get's serious on the tournaments though. Utrecht is doing very good, there is a well organized tournament called Arrakis every two weeks. A lot of the Amsterdam players also go there to test skill.

Online Esports are becoming more popular nowadays. But Melee has been played competitively since its release 16 years ago. And it's a couch multiplayer game. Is that what makes the game more enjoyable?

It's a nice addition to sit next to your opponent when playing. The fight becomes much more intense as it feels more personal. People (I) get nerves and become salty. It's a lot of fun. However Melee is also doing good online, the foundation of melee is in the mechanics.

Which character is your own main and why?

Peach. You know, the pink princess from Mario. She's hot, just like me. Also float cancelling is cool! It's an advanced technique that the game mechanics allowed you to do, but was not intended by the developers. There are various other techniques like this that make Melee more interesting.

Last year, you made the promise to become the best Dutch Smasher in 5 years. How is your training going?

Thank you for bringing this up. I haven't been training so much as I'm currently focussed on setting up IP Shares (the sponsor of Mokum Melee). Luckily for me, I don't need a lot of training to hold this promise. You get better in Melee not just by playing, but also by developing yourself personally/mentally outside of the game.

Wanna see the gamers in action? Come on down July 15th, the entrance is free for spectators.
Want to join in and compete for a prize (which can rise up to €1500,- prize? Grab a ticket here.